Reading about the events following the recent regime change in Spain in El País I found this sentence

Los altos cargos del Gobierno, ministros y secretarios de Estado que proceden fundamentalmente de puestos de primer nivel de la Administración, por haber superado las oposiciones de élite, disponen de lo que se conoce como una "mochila", que es un puesto adecuado a su nivel que se les libera en cuanto vuelven a trabajar para el Estado.
Source: Los exministros de Rajoy en ‘shock’ buscan nuevo destino

It is clear enough what it means but the current meanings of mochila in the dictionary of the RAE refer to what I would call a backpack which is the usage I am familiar with in Spanish speaking countries.

  • Nowadays, it is quite common to use mochila in a broad set of cases. For example, we tend to talk about the mochila emocional, specially when mentioning people having some divorces behind. Ah! The etymology is quite nice: it comes from the Basque motxil, diminutive of motil ('muchacho').
    – fedorqui
    Jun 4, 2018 at 11:11
  • could it be that this term of mochile could mean "backup" o "respaldo"?
    – Mike
    Jun 4, 2018 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


A mochila is, as you say, a backpack: a bag you can fill with useful things and carry with you, which you can also leave aside if you don't need to be encumbered with those things for a while. If you do leave it aside, you can then come back, take your backpack again, and resume possession of those things you were carrying.

This is the first time I hear mochila employed in this sense. As you said, the meaning is perfectly clear once explained. But in most cases where mochila is employed metaphorically, it stands for a burden, not for insurance. A quick search shows that mochila de la deuda is a phrase commonly used to refer to a burden of debt (such as the national debt or taxpayers' debt), both in Spain and Argentina.


This use of the word mochila is taken from the Spanish civil administration lingo. Of course, you will not find it in a dictionary, as it is not extended usage.

If you travel with a backpack, you can rely on its contents (some food, clean clothes, toiletries...) when the need comes. Similarly, in this case, civil servants who left their position to join the government can now rely on their mochila to get an adequate job immediately.

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